CommLab Video & Sound – F11 – Petit

My teammates for the short film we made were Tiffany Chou, Sara alBassam, and Angela Bond (our actress in the film) . We started off with the idea of making a film centered around a single person, a female, inspired by the film Amelie. I brought up the idea of having the character coming across a balloon that had been dropped by a parent or clown/performer from a bag of balloons (this latter part was cut out in the film, even though I thought it would be important to show that she wasn’t a total weirdo!), and the character would see it dropped, pick it up, blow it up, struggle with tying it. The balloon would be filmed flying away, and she would finally have the balloon tied up. I then brought up the idea that she happens to draw a smiley face on the balloon. She would then play with it for a while, but it would get stuck in a tree. As she struggles to get it out of the tree, she looks for anyone to help her. The person that she asks for help is the man of her dreams and she and he instantly fall in love, walking away together as the camera pans up toward the smiley face balloon in the tree. What we added as we were filming was the bike element — they end up riding a bike together (she on the handlebars) and that is the last shot, instead of the balloon in the tree only. I think it turned out great. Our “dreamy dude” was Angela’s real boyfriend and fellow ITP first year Mick. He was the one with the bike and also the tattoo of a bike on his hand, which is a nice touch, I think.

Here are the storyboards that Tiffany sketched after our original sketches that we flushed out together.

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I really enjoyed this process and getting to know my teammates. I think we worked well together, especially while we were editing the story in Final Cut Pro. I think we learned that in the future, it would totally be worth it to wait to shoot the outdoor scenes on a nice, cloudy day — not sunny, not partly cloudy, etc. That really affected the shoot, but we did the best we could with the patchy cloud/sun we had. We decided to use the power of color and saturation to show how happy she is that she has a balloon friend, by singling the balloon out to be in color, and the rest of the scenes would be a brownish-white. We upped the color, contrast, and saturation in the last scenes when she meets Mick and thereafter to show that they are blissed out happy.

Here is the film!


Allison and I went out to record sounds around the NYU area. We recorded sounds on Broadway, Waverly, and Washington Square Park. This assignment called for us to work in pairs… we definitely collaborated together to record certain sounds and we discussed our approach to how we wanted to mix and layer them together. We ended up with two very different sound pieces. Mine is very much a collage of the sounds, but it is very minimally manipulated. I only changes the levels a bit on the band recording to make it a little louder. Allison chose to use a lot of the tools in the Effects menu of Audacity to manipulate the sounds more and create very different characters for them. The listener can tell that we recorded the same type of material. I think it is fascinating how we interpreted the assignment and the sounds themselves differently.

Here is my soundscape piece.

Here is the mp3 on Allison’s blog.

Sorry, I cannot post mp3s here without an upgrade.

I don’t think I buy it. I don’t think that because you label yourself a “collage artist” that you should be able to appropriate 1. someone else’s art or 2. gain from that other person’s art without paying some kind of license. We’re talking about parity here — if you make at least some of your living as an artist, then, one would think you’d understand that part of being an artist is collecting fees for whenever your work is exhibited, distributed, or otherwise displayed. Just because one calls him/herself a “collage artist” working in a world where everyone’s output is his/her “palette” doesn’t mean that he/she gets to freely use someone else’s output in their own and not expect to pay appropriate licensing fees to the original creator, in this case Susan Meiselas’. I agree fully with Meiselas’ stance on this issue, except for the fact that she never did sue or collect fees from Joy Garnett. Why not? it was completely within her rights as the one who not only took the picture, but risked her life to document that moment. Photography, especially the kind that Magnum is known for, is special because the moment captured lives as a documentation of what has actually transpired. But, as in this case, a single picture can be taken out of a reportage story and decontextualized somewhat, it is up to the reader/viewer/”collage artist” to inform themselves of the context before they appropriate it in their minds or in physical form. I don’t think it should be so “easy” for someone to decide that they would like to use someone else’s work — just because it’s art doesn’t mean it’s not someone’s job — without at least giving it the respect of 1. paying for the use (because it’s also the law) and 2. realizing that specificity and context is still important even if (especially a photographic image of a person) it seems that the world has moved beyond that.

It seems that Jonathan Lethem has given us many examples of plagiary that have gone unpunished. It seems pretty clear to me that book titles that have been taken from lines in others’ work should be and often are attributed to the original author, and that if it is not expressly attributed, it is assumed that you should already know that as a reader. It is common practice to quote sources in your own work, so  think maybe his point in his collage piece was a bit lost because he just switched protocol and named the sources later in ” ” to ” ” form. The problem comes when these practices are not adhered to. I really don’t think there is anything wrong with having a patent or copyright on something you have created. Yes, people are influenced by things that have come before them, but that is how the universe evolves and just because there is a patent on something your create doesn’t mean that it is stifling further creation. Why is that even an argument? I, unlike, Lethem, have no problem equating using or taking something without someone’s permission, like stealing. It is.

I’m sorry that the recording artists in the NYT piece have had to wait so long to get to this point of retaining rights to their own work. In no way do the labels have the right to say their artists were essentially “employees” and under the same restrictions and provisions. I’m really happy to be alive in a time where this kind of celebration of the artist/songwriter/musician might be attained. I am also wondering what will happen to the can of worms they mentioned — of what everyone else who worked on a recording might deserve under this law.

All in all, I am a big proponent of copyright and don’t think that people should hold up the “art” flag in defense of their actions that I see black and white as stealing someone else’s work. I think this accusation can be avoided by just following the law and paying licensing fees. Just because you are making a second incarnation of an existing piece of work doesn’t at all put you above the law. Plus, it’s disrespectful of your fellow artists.